Water is a vital resource for human development. The SWP was created after acknowledging that Switzerland has a wealth of water resources, however more than eighty percent of fresh water used to produce goods and services consumed in Switzerland is sourced from other countries. It is therefore in Switzerland’s national interest, and is its moral obligation, to assist countries with less favourable conditions and contribute to current global water challenges.
On the initiative of the Swiss Development Organisation (SDC), a kick-off meeting was organised in September 2011 in order to launch a Swiss Water Partnership. About 80 guests, Swiss actors working in the water sector, representing NGO’s, research institutes, private companies and the government gathered in Bern. A moderator facilitated the open dialogue on interests, expectations, and ideas for content and organisation. The participants all agreed that international solidarity should be at the heart of the motivation to constitute such a platform and expected to benefit from the knowledge sharing and networking with the other actors as well as to strengthen the position of Switzerland in the international water sector.
Interested potential members got together for a second meeting in November 2011 in order to draft a charter that captured the main principles of the SWP and to agree on the tendering process for the secretariat.
At the foundation meeting in February 2012, 45 organisations created the Swiss Water Partnership as a Swiss association: they adopted the statutes of the association and elected its steering board, which is composed of representatives of the different sectors. The secretariat of the SWP was awarded to the aid agency HELVETAS Swiss Intercooperation, which is responsible to develop and coordinate the SWP activities with its members.
Please find here the Discourse of SDC’s Director General Martin Dahinden at the foundation of the SWP and the press release after the foundation.
At the beginning of its mandate, the SWP secretariat organised personal bilateral meetings with a majority of members in order to get to know them and to collect their ideas on the strategic orientation of the platform and possible activities to be prioritised. In June 2012 a members’ meeting held in Berne aimed at
- agreeing on the vision and strategic orientation of the SWP,
- validating the overall goal and specific objectives of the platform as well as to
discuss the prioritised activities to achieve these objectives.
The plenary session was moderated in a stimulating, open and participatory manner while working in small groups gave the opportunity for a collective brainstorming on concrete activities. Involving the members in drafting the action plan is a crucial element in the process of creating ownership. This is expected to motivate the members to take a leadership role on certain actions and thus increase the impact of the platform. Following the June members’ meeting, the secretariat has consolidated all inputs of the working groups into the SWP Action Plan 2012-2013.